“I’m home!” Peer power for wheelchair users in Sydney

“When I rolled in and saw everyone in wheelchairs, I just thought, oh my god I’m home” – Nina Crumpton speaking at the Peer Power conference in Sydney.

Nina was just one of a group of people with physical disability who came together to explore peer support at ‘Peer Power’, a conference held last weekend in western Sydney.

The two day Peer Power conference was run by the Blacktown Peer Support Group and was aimed at people who use wheelchairs or mobility scooters.

Judging by the response of those who attended, the conference was a great success.

Taking action

“As a direct result of Peer Power, instead of grumbling to myself, I’ve gone and written to my local member for the first time,” Christie said after the event.

Christie acquired a disability in recent years and now uses a mobility scooter to get around. She attended the conference to soak up as much information as she could about peer support as there are no peer groups in her area.

Christie found that the sessions gave her practical advice, not just what to do, but also how to do it.

She decided to put the knowledge gained over the weekend into action after the event to deal with an accessibility issue in her local area.

Christie’s local train station in Wolli Creek has no set down space for an accessible vehicle for passengers with limited mobility. She was delighted when her local member said they will take action on this.

“I felt more confident in asking for change. Often you can be a bit apologetic when you have a disability… but I learned it’s ok to ask. It benefits more than just me, this change is for everybody.”

Doing things for ourselves

Kevin Finlayson was thrilled with how the event went.

“I’ve never been so empowered in all my life! It was so nice to have people around us in our situation. I haven’t felt like that in a long, long time.”

Kevin got involved in peer support through a long-time friend of his. He was going through a difficult time in his life last year, and turned up at the Blacktown group for support.

“They helped me tremendously these people. Without them I don’t know what I would have done… We made friends for life.”

Kevin has been advocating for people with disability for the last 25 years. He thinks events like Peer Power are so important to bring people with disability together and in particular to get younger people involved.

“That event will be with me for the rest of my life. I think we proved to the community that we can do things for ourselves.”

Grant

Peer Power was supported through a Team Up grant. You can read about what the other peer groups are doing with their funding on the stories page of the Team Up website.

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